Since Alice was a couple of months old I carried her everywhere. The pram I had thought to be compulsory for all parents was consigned to the garage. I began to learn more and more about the benefits of baby wearing, and it seemed strange and unnatural to even think of putting her so far away from me.
I've had a few slings and carriers, some better than others. My favourite was, and is, a BabyHawk mei tai. By far the prettiest and most comfortable of the lot. I used to happily walk for miles while carrying Alice, the changing bag and often a shopping bag too. If the destination was within 4 miles, I'd walk it. I loved the ease of being able to go up steps, on escalators and over rough ground with no concerns, often with Alice latched on.
Unfortunately, the inevitable happened. The baby got bigger. Even my lovely mei tai is causing me trouble if I leave it on too long. At around 23lb (10.5 kg), I'm not fit enough to carry Alice as far as I did. I had found by the time I came home, I was exhausted. My back was giving me the odd twinge, and I'd often choose the route home that was the shortest rather than the most fun.
I struggled with the idea of giving up carrying her everywhere. It seemed like a very visible indication of my parenting style. To begin using a pushchair felt to me as if I had somehow failed. It was with a heavy heart then that I accepted the offer of a lightweight buggy from my mum. Thankfully, the first time Alice saw it, she crawled straight in. She even chatters to herself while she's in it. It's easy to use, and I'm more likely to take a detour to the park on the way home. I must admit though, I miss feeling her little body next to mine. I miss the running commentary I gave her as we would walk along together, touching leaves on bushes and kissing the top of her head.
Progressing to the pushchair feels like the physical manifestation of the separation that has started between us. When she learnt to walk, there was a change in her. She suddenly became a little more independent. My little baby had been swapped for a toddler and I hadn't been informed. I suppose that's just what the mother/child relationship is though. A gradual separation. Although the AP methods I have employed have helped, and are still helping her to develop confidence in herself and take those steps to independence, I also hope that they have forged a connection that will last even when she is grown.
Our baby wearing days aren't over yet. I still bring the mei tai whenever we go out, just in case, and it's invaluable when getting on the train or going for walks in the country. Now, when I use it, I value every moment.